Storm drenches Southern California

A powerful storm brought record rainfall to Southern California on Wednesday but was expected to give way to warm weather and possible dry winds that could heighten the threat of brush fires by the weekend.

The wet weather snarled rush-hour traffic Wednesday morning as authorities reported more than 130 accidents on Los Angeles County roadways, the California Highway Patrol said. In Sierra Madre, city officials issued a “green flag” alert, warning residents to follow weather reports and be ready for evacuation due to mudslides or debris flow resulting from downpours.

By evening, record daily rainfall had been recorded from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, the National Weather Service said.

Downtown Los Angeles had received 0.37 of an inch of rain, breaking a previous record of 0.22 of an inch set in 1916, the weather service said. At Los Angeles International Airport, 0.43 of an inch of rain fell. That broke a 1945 record of 0.16 of an inch, the weather service said. Woodland Hills recorded 0.29 of an inch of rain, which topped a total of 0.13 of an inch set in 1985.


In Ventura County, Oxnard recorded 0.45 of an inch of rain, topping the 1966 record of 0.02 of an inch, according to the weather service. Santa Barbara Municipal Airport in Goleta had received 0.61 of an inch of rain, breaking a record of 0.33 of an inch registered in 1960.

The region will begin drying out Thursday as a strong ridge of high pressure fills in and begins a warming trend, according to the weather service. Temperatures are expected to range from the 70s along the coast to the 90s inland.

The system could also lead to warm winds, quickly drying up wet vegetation and increasing the potential for brush fires, officials said. They noted that Santa Ana winds typically begin around this time of the year.

“When the winds blow, things dry up quick,” said Capt. Ron Oatman of the Ventura County Fire Department. “A couple of days of wind is all it takes.”


Times staff writer Ching-Ching Ni contributed to this report.